Golden Eagles Advance to Second BIG EAST Semifinals With Sweep of Pitt
Nov. 19, 2010
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The Marquette University women's volleyball team advanced to the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the second time in school history with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-16 sweep of No. 6-seed Pittsburgh Friday evening at the Fitzgerald Field House in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The third-seeded Golden Eagles improve to 22-8 overall and will face No. 2-seed Louisville on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CT in the BIG EAST Championship Semifinals. The Cardinals (19-7 overall) have claimed the last two BIG EAST Championships and have advanced to the conference finals every season since joining the league in 2005. U of L also claimed the conference title in 2006 after beating MU in five sets in Marquette's only other semifinal appearance.
Junior outside hitters Ciara Jones and Ashley Beyer led Marquette with 12 and 11 kills, respectively. Sophomore middle hitter led MU with an attack percentage of .600 with nine kills on 15 attacks. Senior middle hitter Rabbecka Gonyo hit .583 with eight kills and one error on 12 attacks, while fellow All-BIG EAST First Team member Nikki Klingsporn notched 40 assists, six digs and four blocks. The Golden Eagles combined to hit .432 (45 kills, seven errors, 88 attacks) as a team, while Pitt managed only a hitting percentage of .182 (32-16-88).
Senior middle blocker Imani Harper led the Panthers with nine kills in the match, while Alexa Walker notched eight of her own. Pittsburgh falls to 13-18 with the loss.
Marquette shot out quickly in the first set, hitting a combined .519 (15-1-27) as a team and took its largest lead of the set at 14-6 on consecutive service aces from Jones.
The Golden Eagles built a 6-3 lead to open play in the second and Pitt responded to take its first lead at 7-6 after four-straight points. Marquette would retake the lead two points later on a block by Klingsporn and Gonyo. Marquette recorded four blocks in the frame with two block assists a piece from Klingsporn, Gonyo and sophomore Kelsey Mattai. The Panthers hit a combined .065 as a team in the third with eight errors and only 10 kills.
MU service errors accounted for two of Pitt's opening three points in the third as the Golden Eagles built a 8-3 advantage on one of Jones' four kills in the stanza. Marquette cruised to a 25-16 victory with three-straight kills from Jones to build a 20-12 lead.
Marquette previously defeated Pitt 25-16, 25-7, 25-18 on Oct. 31 at the Al McGuire Center. The Golden Eagles last reached the BIG EAST Semifinals in 2006 with a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 17 of that year.
The match-up with Louisville is the second between the two schools this season, as MU rallied from a 2-0 deficit to claim a five-set victory on Nov. 12 at the Al McGuire Center.
The Golden Eagles match with Louisville on Saturday will be broadcast live on BIG EAST.tv at 2:30 p.m. CT.